Daimler Opens Automated Truck R&D Center in Oregon

Daimler is opening an automated truck research and development center in Portland, Ore., which is designing automated driving platforms for the company’s bus and truck division.

The facility will work in cooperation with existing development efforts for automated driving in Stuttgart, Germany, where Daimler is headquartered, as well as operations that the company has in India.

The car maker announced that it is investing around $3 billion in research and development in the next two years, with nearly $600 million dedicated to e-mobility, connectivity and automated commercial vehicle technology.

A company statement noted these funds also included investment in the research and development center for automated driving in Portland.

“From a technological point of view, there is still a long way to go until trucks can drive fully autonomously,” Martin Daum, a Daimler member of the board of management responsible for Daimler Trucks & Buses, wrote in a statement. “Automated vehicles must be as safe as possible. Our research and development center is an important milestone on this road.”

The company also took the wraps off two fully electric trucks from Freightliner, its US truck brand: the eCascadia, a heavy-duty electric truck for long-distance trips, and a fully-electric variant of the Freightliner eM2 106 for medium-distance needs.

The Freightliner eCascadia is based on the Cascadia and boasts a — near — silent 730-horespower engine, with batteries providing enough energy for a range of up to 250 miles.

Daimler claims the batteries can be recharged to around 80% within 90 minutes to cover a further 200 miles.

Intended for local distribution operations and last-mile delivery services, the eM2 106 has a range of around 230 miles. Daimler noted that these batteries can be recharged to around 80% within 60 minutes, for an additional range of 184 miles.

“We designed the eCascadia and the eM2 here in the US, according to the specific requirements of our customers,” Dr. Frank Reintjes, head of global powertrain and manufacturing engineering at Daimler Trucks, wrote in a statement. “We expect increasing demand for electric trucks and buses, and are also receiving these signals from our customers.”

Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) is planning to hand over a fleet of around 30 electric trucks to its first customers in the US over the course of the year, with series production planned for 2021.

As is already the case with the fully-electric Fuso eCanter light truck and the medium Mercedes-Benz eActros, Daimler is looking to gain experience in electric trucks, partnering with customers to determine how to best deploy electric trucks for day-to-day operations.

The full line-up from Daimler Trucks & Buses currently includes the two e-trucks from Freightliner, the eActros, the eCanter, the electric Mercedes-Benz Citaro city bus and the Thomas Built Saf-T Liner C2 Jouley school bus.

Nathan Eddy is a filmmaker and freelance journalist based in Berlin. Follow him on Twitter @dropdeaded209.

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